Is Your Golf Swing Doomed from the Start? | Weekly E-Tip #2 | Tom Saguto, PGA | SagutoGolf

Advertisements

The Importance of a Proper Shoulder Turn

This article title is simple in nature but can be complicated in terms of execution. The shoulder-turn. A common golf term used to describe the circuitous path that the shoulders trace in the backswing and then on the thru swing. If the shoulder turn is so often discussed then why is there so much hype surrounding it? It’s because, in it’s simplicity, it’s a complicated and contradictory feeling when compared to most sports people play.  In this video and article, I will show you how to achieve a proper, body-friendly shoulder turn while also highlighting the differences between a proper and improper shoulder turn.

What’s a Proper Shoulder Turn?

Aside from the setup, the most important key for striking the golf ball solidly (with a nice divot after the ball), is the motion of the shoulders. The main goal of the shoulders is to turn them while maintaining your body’s inclination to the golf ball. Assuming you have a good setup, this would mean turning your shoulders at approximately 90 degrees to your spine (as shown below):

 

With a shoulder turn like this, it’s easier to return the club to the ball in the same place every time–a key for consistently good contact.

What a Proper Turn Does for You

A proper shoulder turn does the following with your swing:

  1. Allows for a Simple and Effortless Backswing: The golf club is attached to the hands, which is attached to the arms, and, consequently, the shoulders. With a proper shoulder turn, the golf club will trace an on-plane path, following the motion of your body. There will be less of a need to rely on swing positions. Instead, you can just SWING.
  2. Allows for the Correct Body Pivot: As the shoulder turns, the body reacts. With a good shoulder turn, the body can pivot with more power potential, allowing the hips to turn more and also freeing up more shoulder turn.
  3. Decreases body stress and pain: As the golfer maintains their incline to the ball in the swing, the upper back controls the shoulder turn. This is good. The upper back is designed to handle turning. When the golfer loses their incline to the ball, the shoulders turn level and cause a great deal of stress on the lower back. In addition, a poor shoulder turn may prevent mobility which can place stress on other parts of your body.

A Real-Life Example

This is one of my students. He has arthritis in the middle of his back and it is a very sensitive area for him. He turned his shoulders level to the ground with caused a myriad of swing problems as well as body pain. Turning his shoulders level caused his body to behave in a disconnected fashion. As a result:

  • His lower body did not turn
  • His arms disconnected from his body in the swing
  • His swing became steep and choppy (causing tops, slices, fat shots)
  • He experienced off-balanced swing behavior

Take a look at his takeaway below. You can already see the disconnected swing forming:

don

The red lines represent the ideal shoulder plane for his swing. The yellow lines represent his current level shoulder turn. Look at the legs, they appear locked and uncomfortable. They are absorbing a ton of stress. The lower back is also locked. The is very little freedom of motion.

Unlocking Your Shoulder Turn

As with my student, I will recommend the same drill to you. This is great to work on in the winter months while you prepare for the upcoming golf season. Check out the result of it below:

don2

My student was able to increase his shoulder turn by allowing the shoulders to turn 90 degrees to the spine. And:

  • His lower body was free to pivot
  • His upper back turned while his lower back remained stress-free
  • He maintained his inclination to the ball

The Shoulder Turn Drill

The drill is very simple and will help you to achieve the proper feeling of a good shoulder turn. You can then build the feeling from the drill into the full swing for best results.

How to do the Drill

(I recommend doing this in a mirror as well) Find your proper shoulder turn by doing the following:

  1. Grab a golf club, alignment stick, or other similar object.
  2. Place the club across your chest with the grip-end facing the target (see below)
  3. Turn shoulders so that the grip end of the club points towards the golf ball. This is an exaggerated feeling designed to help you feel a downward shoulder turn. As you turn your chest to the right, the shoulders should turn down and inward–so as to achieve the proper movements of tilting, turning, and extending required to maintain your inclination to the golf ball.

 

Have a wonderful week and perfect that turn!

Tom Saguto, PGA

Stay Sharp |4 Ways to Improve Your Game this Winter!

Who says that you can’t practice in the winter when it’s snowing or it’s too darn cold outside? Yes, a golfer’s winter break can cause doubt and uncertainty to creep into one’s game just by the sheer fact of not playing golf. Then, all of a sudden, Spring arrives, and the anxiety and excitement of the first tee brings a thought of, “I wonder what the heck I am going to bring to the course today.” Sure, that’s part of the anxiety and fun of having a winter break, but there are ways to stay sharp in the off-season that can prevent your game from changing drastically.

Materials recommended:

  • A mirror (or other reflective device such as a turned off TV screen or window) so that you can see and feel the right swing changes
  • A short club (wedge or 9-iron, we don’t want to break anything inside the house)
  • A committed practice routine and positive mentality (for success!)

#1. Make a Routine Posture Check

Your posture is extremely critical to your body’s ability to swing the golf club in the proper positions. Also, bad posture is one of the main reasons people experience body pain related to golf. When you stop playing golf for a while, your posture and “golf feels” are the first to go. Simply put, we tend to get lazy with our posture in the winter and it affects your game on the 1st tee in the Spring.

A good posture allows the shoulders to turn on their proper inclination to the ground (usually, 90-degrees to your spine). See below:

 

Most golf swing flaws (inside takeaway, arm lifting, swaying) can be cured with a proper posture. Check your posture in a mirror by doing the following tip in the video:

 

#2. Check Your Shoulder Turn and Pivot

A great posture sets you up for a clean, powerful strike but, when you take time off, you can lose the feeling of the proper shoulder turn. Ideally, the shoulders turn on a 90-degree angle to the spine. For most, this is the idea of turning the shoulder downward. The great thing about perfecting your shoulder turn is that,  if you have a good turn, then the club will trace the correct positions in the backswing. There is no need to worry about finding the right positions ALL THE TIME!

I recommend doing this in a mirror as well. Find your proper shoulder turn by doing the following:

  1. Grab a golf club, alignment stick, or other similar object.
  2. Place the club across your chest with the grip-end facing the target (see below)
  3. Turn shoulders so that the grip end of the club points towards the golf ball. This is an exaggerated feeling designed to help you feel a downward shoulder turn. As you turn your chest to the right, the shoulders should turn down and inward–so as to achieve the proper movements of tilting, turning, and extending.

#3. Stretch and Be Active!

Stretching is crucial in the off-season. Most people are less active in the winter and spend more time inside. Less activity leads to tighter muscles and stress if not appropriately dealt with. Stretching keeps muscles loose and limber, in an active state–you’ll also feel a lot better too! I recommend actively stretching (3-5 days a week, every day is best-if you can). Do the following stretches and hold them for 20 seconds each time (Click on the stretches to find guides on how to best stretch that area):

#4. Visualize

This is the best way to stay sharp for the off-season (Posture and swing aside). What I am referring to is mental visualization. Preparing the mind to play golf. Golfers should not underestimate the power of their mind in golfing success. Here is a true story related to the power of your mind:

A US soldier stationed overseas loved to play golf. He was a scratch golfer before leaving on his tour of duty, routinely shooting around even par. However, due to his situation he was unable to hit balls or play for a couple of years while on his tour of duty. He loved golf so much and couldn’t imagine being away from it for such an extended period so he decided he would find a way to play golf……..in his mind.

He would play golf at his home course every night before going to bed. Closing his eyes, he visualized and played 18 holes of golf. Playing the first hole he could hear the wind, birds chirping, and smell the fresh-cut grass, the dew was still fresh. Then, he gazed down the 1st hole fairway and pictured his shot shape, a high draw 3-iron for the short par-4. He imagined feeling and making his swing, exactly as he had done many times on the real course before. He hit the draw perfectly, a well executed and crisp 3-iron.

He would imagine walking down the fairway to his next shot, in real time, his mind’s eye believing and seeing everything he visualized. Then he pulled out his rangefinder and shot the laser at the flag situated on the middle of the green. 143 yards it said. The approach was simple, a slight wind to the left with a bunker on the right and also the left-front of the green. A gentle slope fed off of the green’s front into a patch of tightly mown fairway. He planned his approach, visualizing a shot that would start right and let the wind draw in to the middle of the green for him. He made a practice swing, went through his pre-shot routine and executed the swing, feeling the mashed contact of the ball on the face and seeing the perfectly-shaped 8-inch divot of fresh turf fly in front of him. The ball lands 5 feet from the hole–a beautiful shot. He picks up the divot and replaces it in the bentgrass turf.

He would continue to play 18-holes of golf in this mental state of extreme detail every night. Covering every hole, shot, pre-shot routine, and experiencing everything he could craft in his mind. 

Finally, his tour of duty was over. He was able to return home after a couple of years. Excited as ever to play golf again! He hadn’t swung the club in so long–but he visualized it every night. He stepped up on the real course that day and played it exactly as he had played it every night while overseas. He shot an even-par 72. He cried tears of joy and celebrated the moment, he was still the golfer that he was before he left. 

A remarkable story, and one worth mentioning. Can you imagine the happiness he was feeling? This explains that your mind is more that capable of controlling your golf swing, swing feelings, and is also able to create situations in your mind that affect how you feel and your perspective on life. This golfer never touched a club in two years, but because he was so detailed, very specific in his intentions with his imaginary golf shots, and the situations he created became as if they were true to life. His mind believed that he was actually playing golf.

You can do the same thing this offseason. The more specific you can be with your mind, the more likely you are going to believe what you are capable of. You don’t have to play 18 holes every night in your mind, but you can play 3 holes before drifting off to sleep. Doing this keeps your golfing mind sharp and also helps you to retain the feeling you had when you were swinging your best.

Believe it. Feel each swing. Embrace each shot. Every shot is a new and exciting challenge. Have fun this offseason!

In good swinging,

Tom Saguto, PGA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Visualization | Stay Sharp | Break Mental Barriers

The brain is an asset in golf and can also be your worst enemy. The key is finding out what makes your brain fire on the proper cylinders to keep your golfing mind in a peak performing state. One of the ways to keep your golfing mind sharp is to visualize, and visualize deeply.

This is the best way to stay sharp for the off-season (Posture and swing aside). What I am referring to is mental visualization. Preparing the mind to play golf. Golfers should not underestimate the power of their mind in golfing success. Here is a true story related to the power of your mind:

A US soldier stationed overseas loved to play golf. He was a scratch golfer before leaving on his tour of duty, routinely shooting around even par. However, due to his situation he was unable to hit balls or play for a couple of years while on his tour of duty. He loved golf so much and couldn’t imagine being away from it for such an extended period so he decided he would find a way to play golf……..in his mind.

He would play golf at his home course every night before going to bed. Closing his eyes, he visualized and played 18 holes of golf. Playing the first hole he could hear the wind, birds chirping, and smell the fresh-cut grass, the dew was still fresh. Then, he gazed down the 1st hole fairway and pictured his shot shape, a high draw 3-iron for the short par-4. He imagined feeling and making his swing, exactly as he had done many times on the real course before. He hit the draw perfectly, a well executed and crisp 3-iron.

He would imagine walking down the fairway to his next shot, in real time, his mind’s eye believing and seeing everything he visualized. Then he pulled out his rangefinder and shot the laser at the flag situated on the middle of the green. 143 yards it said. The approach was simple, a slight wind to the left with a bunker on the right and also the left-front of the green. A gentle slope fed off of the green’s front into a patch of tightly mown fairway. He planned his approach, visualizing a shot that would start right and let the wind draw in to the middle of the green for him. He made a practice swing, went through his pre-shot routine and executed the swing, feeling the mashed contact of the ball on the face and seeing the perfectly-shaped 8-inch divot of fresh turf fly in front of him. The ball lands 5 feet from the hole–a beautiful shot. He picks up the divot and replaces it in the bentgrass turf.

He would continue to play 18-holes of golf in this mental state of extreme detail every night. Covering every hole, shot, pre-shot routine, and experiencing everything he could craft in his mind. 

Finally, his tour of duty was over. He was able to return home after a couple of years. Excited as ever to play golf again! He hadn’t swung the club in so long–but he visualized it every night. He stepped up on the real course that day and played it exactly as he had played it every night while overseas. He shot an even-par 72. He cried tears of joy and celebrated the moment, he was still the golfer that he was before he left. 

A remarkable story, and one worth mentioning. Can you imagine the happiness he was feeling? This explains that your mind is more that capable of controlling your golf swing, swing feelings, and is also able to create situations in your mind that affect how you feel and your perspective on life. This golfer never touched a club in two years, but because he was so detailed, very specific in his intentions with his imaginary golf shots, and the situations he created became as if they were true to life. His mind believed that he was actually playing golf.

You can do the same thing this offseason. The more specific you can be with your mind, the more likely you are going to believe what you are capable of. You don’t have to play 18 holes every night in your mind, but you can play 3 holes before drifting off to sleep. Doing this keeps your golfing mind sharp and also helps you to retain the feeling you had when you were swinging your best.

Believe it. Feel each swing. Embrace each shot. Every shot is a new and exciting challenge. Have fun this offseason!

In good swinging,

Tom Saguto, PGA

Quick Tip| Episode #1 | Maintain Your Swing Center

These quick tips are designed much like a grab-n-go type of article. A pre-range or quick pre-play tip that you can use easily on the course. It won’t have as much detail but it will be to the point.

This first tip is about maintaining your swing center. Imagine two circles: one around your shoulders and a larger one representing the clubhead arc. A golfer will make solid contact more consistently with the golf ball provided that they maintain their shoulder center throughout the swing. Tom Saguto, PGA shows you in the following video how to maintain your swing center for solid contact.

Things that Cause the Shoulder/Swing Center to Move

  1. Weight Shift: Shifting weight back and forth causes the swing circle to move all over the place, causing timing issues and inconsistency.
  2. Arm Lifting: When the arms lift in the swing they are pulled off of the body and forced off of the natural swing arc preset at address.
  3. Address Posture: Tilting too far away from the target in the setup causes the golfer to swing behind the ball, tilting to far toward the target causes the golfer to hit too steeply into the ball.
  4. Weight Distribution: Weight hanging on the rear foot in setup causes the golfer to hit behind the ball. Weight that is more forward encourages a powerful, descending blow into the golf ball. Weight that is too far forward can cause thin shots

Keeping the Swing Center in Place

To keep the swing center in place do the following as you swing:

  1. Weight Forward (and keep it forward): 60-70% of weight on lead leg. Maintain it there throughout the swing. This causes your body to stay covering the golf ball for solid contact and it also requires a lot less hand-eye coordination.
  2. Cover the golf ball in setup: Setup with less tilt away from the target. Get your shirt buttons over the golf ball and keep the chest pointing down at the ball as you swing. This helps turn the shoulders on an incline, another great contact key.
  3. Hands Forward (inside left thigh): Place the hands forward and preset impact. The left arm represents the radius of your swing circle. If the hands are back, you encourage a strike behind the ball and it’s more likely you will fade it. If the hands are forward you encourage a strike in front of the ball and increase the likelihood of a draw. The hands should be placed inside the left thigh for optimal ballstriking.

Have fun and enjoy making better contact!

In good swinging,

Tom Saguto, PGA

Helping You Make the Most out of the Game You Love.

%d bloggers like this: